Monday, April 4, 2011

Post #11: Commercial and Sharing Economies

The difference between commercial and sharing economies is that, in a commercial economy, "money or 'price' is a central term of the ordinary, or normal, exchange" (118). In contrast, a sharing economy's exchange can involve anything except money. This means that requests for attendance, a need for cleaning help, etc. all encompass the types of exchange sharing economies work with. We live in a society that forces us to constantly interact with both types of economies, especially on the internet. While a request for a blog post from a professor would constitute a transaction in a sharing economy, the purchase of a $10 DVD on Amazon would describe the transactions in a commercial economy.

This distinction matters because Lessig wants the reader to understand how our culture has become so accustomed to certain interactions and how slight alterations may throw us for a loop, such as in his example where the waiter refused to put cheese on his pasta to preserve its taste. One would think that if the waiter was concerned about rationing the cheese, some money would make its use alright. However, this is an example of a sharing economy because eating the pasta as is was the request, or demand, and no monetary funds could change it.

Lessig's discussion about how long tails, little brother and Lego-ized innovation help commercial economy businesses such as Google succeed also aid in understanding how we interact with the digitized medium. I especially think the point about how "long tails", or the ability to have an increased inventory thanks to decreased need for space allows businesses to reach customers on a much wider range. These days, we take for granted the fact that Netflix has over 75,000 titles and just a decade ago Blockbuster was happy with its collection of about 7,000. This is the reason why Pullman's Blockbuster couldn't keep up and the online business is taking over. It's important to understand how the success of these businesses has forever changed the ways in which we acquire our daily wants and needs.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Post #10: The Remix

For my remix, I  chose Lil Wayne's "Green and Yellow", a song that was released right before the Super Bowl and remixes Wiz Khalifa's "Black and Yellow."

In the reading, Lessig uses the example that, with a brief given in court, "Everything is drawn from cases that went before, presented as if the argument now presented is in fact nothing new" (52). The similarity with Lil Wayne's song is that a majority of the aspects in his song (rhyming patterns, punchlines, timing, etc.) draw from Wiz's original creation and change it only in some minor aspect. For example, in his chorus for Black and Yellow, Wiz raps "screamin' that's nothin', when I pulled off the lot, that's stuntin'." Alternatively, Wayne's chorus includes him rapping "Pittsburgh Steelers, that's nothin', that Super Bowl ring, that's stuntin'." This remix pays homage to the catchy rhymes and clever timing which made the original so popular by making slight changes throughout the song.

These changes, however, completely alter the message of the song from an ego-boosting anthem about cars, money and Pittsburgh to a song purely cheering on the Green Bay Packers. Lessig states that "The remix is meant to do something new" (52). The contrast in message from Wayne's song and the original is multiplied by the fact that the two cities represented by each artist would soon  face each other in the Super Bowl. It seemed like Wayne, a known Packers fan, wanted to even the playing field heading into this huge game by giving Green Bay an anthem similar to the one Steelers fans had been playing all season. Therefore, he altered the message with his remix and did something new.

I really liked Lessig's way of summing up the two sides when discussing how creativity will be governed: whether the "ask permission" norms be extended from film and music to text or the norms of "quote freely, with attribution" spread from text to music and film (55). It's interesting that he's separated the choices this way instead of just public vs. private because, in his representation, the conflict is not simply about monetary issues, but rather attributing ideas to or acknowledging the work of the original creator. Wayne doesn't flat out say "Thanks Wiz for the beat, I'll take it from here", but rather he pays homage to the style and creativity that makes the song so good, which in my opinion shows even more respect and appreciation for the original. He could've just taken the beat from Black and Yellow, made up a completely different chorus and changed the rhyme scheme and flow so that the remix had barely and resemblance to Wiz's song. This remix, however, seems to "cite" the widely popular original song by using such strong similarities that it's quality of being a remix is undeniable.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Post #9- Copyright Laws and RW vs. RO cultures

I think one of Lessig's main arguments made through the examples in the introduction is that the idea that "Permission is vital, legally" must be abandoned in order to encourage the creativity of artists. It's like giving a painter a canvas and brushes but no paint. The artists, such as Girl Talk, Candice Breitz, and even the mother with the YouTube video, must be able to freely engage with preexisting materials in order to build upon them and eventually create something entirely different. I like the idea that Breitz believed there were enough pictures and dedications to celebrities so she decided to show the other side, the people who make these icons so important. It's something we don't often consider but, truthfully, without us as consumers and fans of these people, they wouldn't be the celebrities we've come to know and appreciate.

Concepts such as this one are important to explore, especially in such a pop culture driven society, however the copyright laws have made it nearly impossible for artists to convey such bold statements with all the rules regarding usage. Lessig is saying that these laws and the over-protection of famous material is holding the creativity back in our society.

Lessig describes the difference between a Read/Write culture and a Read Only culture when he states that, in an RW culture, "ordinary citizens “read” their culture by listening to it or by reading representations of it" and consequently creating and re-creating from the materials and things they've observed. In contrast, an RO culture is "less practiced in performance, or amateur creativity, and more comfortable (think: couch) with simple consumption." This is important to Lessig's argument because, since we are believed to be living in an RO culture, there is a fear that ground-breaking ideas such as Breitz's and Girl Talk's will become more and more difficult to create for the artists, since everyone has become content with consuming mass media.

The Sousa example describes how an already famous artist could suffer by the potential for others to re-create and change their works for profit. Truly, it  is a gray area when it comes to the amount of change needed to be done to an original work before it becomes something else. Just in our discussion with Doc Adam, we had trouble discerning between remixes, mash-ups and a completely new song. However, I believe that Lessig's main argument is that the fact that these changes are being made, that people are exploring new ways to look at old things, is a good sign for society and monetary gains shouldn't play a role in limiting the creativity of a culture.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Post #5: Implicit and Explicit Information

Heidegger's belief that "the meaning of a particular thing is enabled by the web of implicit meanings we call the world" can be summed up by saying that, in order to understand something, a person must have some context or background information about it. This information can be as vague as the book's example that trees grow in the ground and are then turned into lumber, providing something for nails to be pounded into with a hammer. It is this sort of flowing stream of consciousness that allows us to understand the world around us.

The concept of a web of implicit meanings relates to the third order of order because it shows how we find things that have multiple ways of being described. For example, a CD can be put on a specific shelf in someone's massive music collection and that person can use multiple "web's of meaning" to find it, such as genre, artist, whether or not it is a favorite CD, or many of the other categories for describing it.

So for my sketch of the web of meaning, I chose the song "Power" by Kanye West. Here is the three "webs" that would help a computer make the connection from this song to myself.

1) <---- I'm a big Kanye fan <---- This is one of my favorites

2) <---- Great choice for The Social Network preview <---- I liked the movie

3) <---- Disses SNL cast in the song <---- I like how he performed it on SNL

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Post #3

In Chapter 4, the discussion of organization leads to the mentioning of rules that apply to lists and their creation. Rules such as "A list is a list of something" and it is "compiled for a reason" direct how we organize the things in our lives. For me, the playlists I use to keep my music in order work because I've established criteria for how they should be compiled. "All time favorites" doesn't adhere to a single genre, but rather the reasoning that all of these songs are ones that I personally like.
Another person could organize this music in a completely different manner, dividing such playlists into categories not based on preference but on the actual, objective qualities of each song. For instance, someone could sort tracks by genre, artist, year, etc. which would most likely make it easier for any given person to pick up the iPod, sort through the playlists, and find a song they want to hear.
The way I organize my music into playlists is based almost entirely on personal preference rather than the genres and so on that describe it. It shows that I value having groups of songs based on my opinions of them, whether they are old favorites or new ones I'm starting to like, and that characteristics of the track play a lesser role in my method of organization.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Post #2

One of the main points I took away from the first couple chapters was the three different "orders of order." While the first order simply organizing things by putting them in their physical location (books on shelves, etc.), the second order uses more a catalog-based system in which a directory points to the thing, which is grouped in ways such as alphabetizing by subject. The third order represents the web and its storage of information. Just as the title implies, everything is miscellaneous and therefore a specific things need to be able to be found based on not just one form of criteria but on an infinite number of categories which define it. For example, a book about basketball in 1983 could be found by looking up the sport itself, the year in discussion, or even simply books, since it fits all of those criteria.

Music is one area where I like to have a set form of organization. I create playlists such as "New songs" or "Old favorites" which are made up of a variety of genres, artists and tracks. This organization works better for me than having to search by the specific artists or some other criteria since my music selection doesn't necessarily fit into those categories, rather generalizing with the title of "Old favorites" allows for the widest possible description of the music in that playlist. I believe that digitized music fits into the mold of the third order of orders because there are so many different ways in which people can find one specific track, making the first two orders seem almost obsolete at least in this example.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Blog #1

I think one of the most interesting ideas presented by this discussion on Web 2.0 is the understanding that the people, not just the companies, are creating important web applications through their involvement and submission of data. Without these members and contributors, web apps don't have any new information to work with and sites like Wikipedia and Facebook would no longer function properly. I would love to be a technical writing editor so it is an intriguing thought that a majority of the writing on popular websites is contributed by the general public, not the businesses themselves. Hopefully there's still plenty of information on the professional side to be examined and edited, but still, this transition to Web 2.0 has had an effect on how information is presented online.

Even though its been around for awhile now, Pandora is one of my favorite web applications because I use it constantly and it has become a part of my everyday life. There has to be some very complex algorithms directing the application's selection of music based on the user's input and the connections made between genres, songs and artists are an impressive display of the power the web has to bring together all different types of media for the user's benefit. Though other applications are making great leaps forward into the "web squared" era, there's still not too much that's more exciting than when Pandora introduces a new artist that you wouldn't have known about without the use of this web application.